Key takeaways from the COP26 Summit

Key takeaways from the COP26 Summit


Deforestation and low-carbon construction were the main timber talking points of COP26.

Negotiations went into overtime in a bid to reach an all-important climate agreement during the conclusion of the COP26 Summit in Glasgow last week.

Now that the dust has settled somewhat, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on the key takeaways of the summit for those of us in the timber industry.

The summit began with a bang following the global financial pledge to end deforestation by 2030, with major players such as China, Brazil and the USA signing the agreement.

We welcomed this commitment to protect forest ecosystems however question marks remain over how such a broad pledge will be policed in the future.

As commentators pointed out, a similar pledge emerged in 2014 yet deforestation increased since this point in time.

We have argued, with the release of the Tropical Timber Accord, that the issue of deforestation is one of a governance, rather than funding, deficit.

If we are to prevent deforestation, we need new policies that incentivise legal and governance reform to ensure long-term forest sustainability and growth.

In doing this, we can deliver improved environmental and ecological outcomes whilst improving the prosperity of local communities and supplier countries.

I urge members to read and share the full Accord here.

On the construction side, the COP26 summit witnessed a clear recognition of the built environment’s role in reducing carbon emissions. This included from:

  • The Construction Leadership Council released their CO2nstructZERO framework update which outlines a strategy and metric for low carbon construction.
  • The UK Green Building Council also launched their Net Zero Whole Life Carbon Roadmap which they define as a “common vision and agreed actions for achieving net-zero carbon in the construction”.


These frameworks follow on nicely from the recent ‘Time for Timber’ manifesto, which highlights how we can use wood in construction to environmentally revolutionise our cities.

The launch of the manifesto and various frameworks, as well as a dedicated Built Environment Day last Thursday, ensured low-carbon construction finally got the attention it deserved.

This recognition was a big win, with greater awareness generated on timber’s role in decarbonising construction both in the UK and throughout the world.

It is hard to judge whether COP26 will prove a turning point in the years to come, however, it should be viewed as a positive start for those of us committed to sustainable forestry and low-carbon construction.

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